Sappi is one of the largest pulp and paper companies in the world, and large companies generally know how to buy services. Johannes Boner is the General Counsel of Sappi Europe headquartered in Brussels. He is thus used to buying legal services across Europe. The pulp and paper industry is under tremendous pressure to keep all costs down. That is the reason why he is not willing to retain big and consequently quite often expensive law firms.
”Why should we overspend on legal services when the rest of the company must be very careful with all other purchases? When it comes to the purchase of chemicals, for example, we scrutinize every euro,” Boner says.
When the paper industry giant bought two Finnish paper mills from M-real, it also needed legal assistance in Finland. Boner heard of Fondia and quickly became interested in its way of doing business. With Fondia's Legal Department Service Sappi managed to cover all its day-to-day legal affairs in Finland for a fixed monthly fee. Boner investigated Fondia's references and the personnels´ professional background and became convinced of the law firm´s competence and capability. All that was needed then was a phone call and a meeting, and the retainer agreement was concluded.
”We get what we want. The price-quality ratio is excellent, and the service works well,” Boner says. Sappi's affairs are managed by a dedicated team inside Fondia. When representatives of the client need advice, they send an email to the team's shared address. One of the team members takes the matter in his or her hands and manages it all the way through. Everybody at Fondia stays up-to-date because all the client's legal affairs are stored in one electronic folder. The service works seamlessly throughout the year because the information is not in just one lawyer's head.
Boner has worked as an attorney himself, and he knows the tricks of the trade. He does not expect his external legal partners to show heroic acts of self-sacrifice by working around the clock. Night shifts do nothing to accomplish a job efficiently – and in the end it is always the client who pays for such stunts. Sappi appreciates that things run smoothly and that communication works. ”Deadlines are respected as promised. There are enough Swiss genes in me to greatly appreciate punctuality.”